Agenda item


To consider a Motion on the suspension of the Operating License at Walleys Quarry


Cllr Jones presented the proposed motion of suspension of the operating license at Walleys Quarry and expressed his support towards amending the motion in favour of a full closure of the site. Cllr Jones moved the motion which was then seconded by Cllr Fox-Hewitt who summarised it as follows:


-       that the Council be unequivocal that the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme were living with a significant Public Health Emergency;

-       that the Council hear from residents and communities who had put them there to be their voice;

-       that the Council demand that the site be closed as per the amendment and for the Environment agency to do their job and publish the data that it was charged with providing the people;

-       that the Council use the process of a judicial review to force those charges towards protecting the health and security of citizens;

-       that the Council agree to use its financial resources originating from people paying their council tax to that extent.


The Leader presented and moved the amendment to the motion. This was seconded by Cllr Holland who expressed the wish for the Council to speak with one voice.


Cllr Fox-Hewitt suggested changes to the wording of the amendment. Cllr Jones supported the suggestions. The Leader wished to stick with the amendment as presented to the Council and clarified the wording.


Cllrs Adcock, Bettley-Smith and Fear expressed their support to the amendment as drafted. Cllr Whieldon highlighted the importance of getting things right the first time to ensure success.


Cllr Jones drew members’ attention to two red lines in the amendment:


-       there was in his opinion no commitment to direct action;

-       the legal support fund was one third of the original reserve of £1 million.


The Leader responded that once a closure notice was issued by the Environment Agency, a series of actions would follow that decision.  The Walleys reserve, to support legal action, would be increased by a vote of Full Council if officers advised prosecuting the abatement notice.


The Leader moved the amendment as drafted.


The Mayor stated that the proposed amendment had been moved, seconded and debated and members were asked to vote on whether or not to amend the motion as proposed.


Resolved:     That the amendment be carried.


                        (23 in favour, 16 against)


The Mayor invited members to debate on the amended motion.


Cllr Holland reminded members of the importance of being united.


The meeting was adjourned for two minutes following disturbance from the public. The Chief Executive then clarified that the debate and vote were now on the amended motion.


Cllrs J. Williams and Heesom encouraged members to set political differences aside to do what’s best for residents. Cllr Moss reminded all of the health hazards related to hydrogen sulphides. Cllr Allport referred to the impact of the toxic odours on Council staff working in the vicinity of the site including sleep and mental health.


Cllr Jones expressed his disappointment at the way the amended motion was drafted whilst informing members that he would nonetheless vote in favour of it as the only way forward for residents.


Cllr Richards also supported the motion although wished to know what action would be taken to restore the site after closure.


Cllr Fear referred to paragraphs 8.1 and 8.3 of the report and shared his confidence that legal officers would let members know in case the judicial review process was not going anywhere.


The Leader concluded by reiterating his support with the amended motion which he wished to move forward.


Resolved:     1. That odours emanating from Walley’s Quarry Landfill represents a significant public health emergency for the residents of the borough.


2. That Full Council ask the relevant Scrutiny Committees to hold a public hearing, to receive impact statements from residents, stakeholders, including businesses, the operator, Staffordshire County Council, and local health bodies.


3. That Council endorses the decision made by the Cabinet on 16th January to encourage the Environment Agency (EA) to consider a Closure Notice and formally resolves to call on the EA to go further than ‘suspending the operator’s licence’ and issue a Closure Notice.


4. That the Environment Agency be requested to publish immediately a full 365 days’ air monitoring data set to examine impact against the chronic-term health guidelines where 1.4 ppb and 2?g/m3 are applicable.


5. That Council continues to focus its energies on resolving foul odour from Walleys Quarry Landfill within its Abatement Notice powers as a priority and asks the Monitoring Officer, with appropriate legal support, to assess the most effective route, including Judicial Review, to securing an end to the community’s suffering.


6. That the Monitoring Officer’s advice is referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committees for consideration prior to consideration by Cabinet and Full Council.


7. That Council endorses the Cabinet budget proposal to increase the Walleys Quarry Legal Action Reserve to £300,000, with any further expenditure being a Full Council decision at the appropriate time.


(37 in favour, 1 against)


Watch the debate here

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